In today’s world, no one is going to bat an eyelid if a mom decides to take a career break. It’s the transition back to the workforce that is a bit daunting for mothers.
Overcoming their fears is the hardest threshold for mothers making their comeback to work. So here are some tips and strategies on how to transit back to work.
We fear that we are outdated for the job market. We fear that employers don’t want us because we are older (and they are looking to hire younger women). We fear that we are unable to give our children the attention they need once we return to the workforce. The list goes on…
As a mom and a woman who had taken a career break and stepped back into the workforce, I know all too well the challenges and the anxieties of returning back to work. When Samantha Ng, the founder of Project Jobless asks if I had any tips or strategies to share with mothers seeking to take a career break or looking to return to the workforce, I immediately jumped onto her bandwagon.
Today’s mothers have many options. You can choose to commit fully to your family by being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), or keep your day job and be a work-from-home mom (WFHM). You might even join the Gig economy as either a freelance professional or a mumpreneur. The world really is wide open to you.
Remember WHY you are taking time from your career path. It is always a noble cause to be there for your children/family. Never allow others to dissuade you from it. But, if you want to keep the career door open for your return, here are some ideas for you to chew on.
#1 Make Time For Yourself
Enjoy your time as a full-time mom and be present for your children. But if you do not feel fulfilled, you are not doing yourself or your children any favours. Give yourself transition time to adjust and remember to schedule self-care time to recharge, rebuild, and re-calibrate. When you are fulfilled, you are able to handle any challenges that comes your way.
#2 Cultivate Your Interest/Hobby
Take this opportunity to discover and cultivate your interest or hobby. Oftentimes, this interest/hobby might be expanded to into a side business or incorporated into your next career/work path. This is what career coaches theorize as a “happenstance”.
I converted my passion for writing into a freelance job, used it to build a digital presence and eventually led to paid commissions such as talks and job opportunities.
Don’t have any interest or hobby? Try volunteering at a non-profit to find your niche or challenge yourself to learn a new skill (alone or with a partner).
#3 Be Open to New Opportunities & Experiences
Sometimes, we talk ourselves into missing potential opportunities and experiences because we are no longer players in the game. Here’s the newsflash: you can still play the game even when you are on the sidelines.
The next time you get an invitation to join the game, no matter how small, participate! You never know that your next big gig is around the corner. Here are my 3 rules to be open to new opportunities and experiences:
- Be purposeful and intentional.
- Keep adding to the learning and exploration. Refine and improve.
- Network, network, network.
#4 Look for “Bricks” and Keep Building
Mothers, especially have great transferrable skills. My clients who are mothers hoping to return to work are often stumped as to what skills they have. When they hear me rattle off the skills, they are either amused or stumped that I could come up with so many. Here are just a few off the top of my list: event organizers, occasion planners, finance whiz, caterers, customer relations, teachers, and social counselors.
Look out for relevant skills that you can acquire now, that you can use when you get back to work. If you are not sure what are the skills, link up with me or ask a career coach. These are the bricks that you can lay towards sustaining your career path in the future.
#5 Keep Yourself Relevant
One of the fears that I hear most from my clients (who are moms) is that they are no longer relevant in the current job market. You can stay relevant by keeping in touch with your former colleagues/clients and keep up with news from your industry. LinkedIn is a really good space to do both.
A client of mine who is a mother and marketing professional, recently successfully found her way back to work after a career break to have her 2 kids. She shared that she stayed relevant by taking on short-term projects during the break. This allows her to sharpen her existing skills, learn new ones and keep up with the trends.
There you have it – Five titbits to chew on while you are out of the workforce. Whatever is the direction of your transition, here are a few more notions to help with your changeover.
Taking a Career Break
If you decide to take a career break, try the following:
- Have a TIMEFRAME on how long you plan to stay at home with the kids. This gives you a structured timeline to block off your current decision to leave the workforce.
- While you are a stay-at-home mom, explore and discover your INTERESTS that may allow you to re-launch your return to work or start a new career path.
- Schedule time to “think” about your NEEDS. With young kids running around and clamoring for your attention daily, thinking might be the last thing on your mind. But set aside some quiet time to reflect and brainstorm. You can do this alone or with close friends. Trust me, this will come in handy when it’s time to make your comeback to the workforce.
Going Back to Work
If you are looking to go back to work, try the following:
- WORK WITH a career coach to clarify your priorities (woman or mom – which one is more important to you at this stage of your life).
- EXPLORE your work options and find the right one that fits your family lifestyle.
- UNDERSTAND the root cause of your guilt about going back to work so you can put it to rest and focus on what’s most important – your happiness and a balanced work-life.
Share with us how did you balance your career and motherhood?
Project Jobless is a social movement that empowers men and women to start taking charge of their careers and do meaningful work that leads to happy and fulfilling lives. Go to irreplaceable.work for more information on Project Jobless. Catch the full episode of me in their Career Series at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3KibYvCJGg.